How ADHD Symptoms Manifest in Adults

by Eileen Bailey Health Writer

The DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) is the guide doctors use when diagnosing ADHD. But much of the wording included in this reference indicates how symptoms will manifest themselves in children, for example: "doesn't want to do things that take a lot of mental effort... (such as schoolwork or homework)," or "often loses things... (toys, school assignments, pencils, books or tools)." Although the diagnostic manual does provide some information for diagnosing adults, for example, "makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work or other activities," it can be confusing to understand how the symptoms of inattention, impulsiveness and hyperactivity appear in adults.

Keeping in mind that ADHD is unique in each individual, it can be even more difficult to determine symptoms of ADHD in adults. However, the list below will provide a guideline for how symptoms manifest themselves in adults with ADHD. (Please note that this should not be used for diagnostic purposes, if you feel that you may have ADHD, please discuss your concerns with your physician or a medical professional that is qualified to make a diagnosis.)

Inattention can appear in many different ways:

· May lose or misplace items such as keys, important papers, phone numbers and other things used on a daily basis. This often occurs on a regular basis

· Often forgetful, may consistently forget to take out the trash, may forget to pick up the children from activities, may forget to complete tasks, even after instructions have been given

· Beginning, but not completing tasks

· Often distracted, for example, may begin a task such as mowing the grass, but hear the phone ring, go inside, get a drink, pay attention to what is on television, talk with your children and completely forget to finish mowing the lawn until hours later

· May have difficulty following conversations. May be easily distracted and miss important details of conversations

· Lacks self motivation, even if the project sounds like something you would like to complete

· Often loses track of time or misjudges how much time has passed. Can be difficult to follow a timed schedule

· Your mind wanders easily, even if someone is speaking to you or you should be completing a task or project

Hyperactivity in children can be easy to spot. Children can't sit still for even a few moments or they are constantly in motion. They may act as if driven by a motor and often jump or bounce around the room

· Needs constant motion, may tap feet, play with a pencil, doodle or fidget

· Easily bored. May move from job to job because you become bored once you have learned the job, may not complete projects because you become bored after a short time. You need be intensely interested in something for it to hold your interest

· Although you can sit still, you feel restless after just a few minutes of inactivity. You feel the need to get up, walk around the room or do something

· Active, risky or fast paced activities are more interesting and more apt to hold your interest

Impulsiveness is reacting without thinking first. Children that are impulsive might yell an answer out at school without raising their hand or waiting for their turn. Children may jump from a play set before thinking of the consequences. Adults with ADHD can also be impulsive:

· Consistently interrupts others while talking or answering a question before it has been completed

· Enters conversations while others are still talking

· Blurts out comments or thoughts without thinking first causing hurt feelings

· Enters into risky or undesirable behavior on the spur of the moment

· Has difficulty conforming to a budget because of impulsive spending habits

Although the following are not specific symptoms of ADHD, these characteristics are often found in adults with ADHD:

· Easily angered or low tolerance for frustration

· Needs instant success to keep interest level up

· Low self-esteem, even though you can appear confident to others

· Avoid new situations and meeting new people

Suggested Reading:

Share Post - The Positive Side of ADHD
ADHD at Work
Adult ADD
Tips for Success in Adult Relationships with ADHD

Eileen Bailey
Meet Our Writer
Eileen Bailey

Eileen Bailey is an award-winning author of six books on health and parenting topics and freelance writer specializing in health topics including ADHD, Anxiety, Sexual Health, Skin Care, Psoriasis and Skin Cancer. Her wish is to provide readers with relevant and practical information on health conditions to help them make informed decisions regarding their health care.